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EU - The fight for gender equality must go on

Commissioner Špidla emphasises that the fight for gender equality must go on

Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Vladimir Špidla, today expressed his thanks to the Luxembourg Presidency for organising the Beijing+10 Conference with the support of the Commission.

The Conference reviews the implementation of the goals stated at the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995. The Beijing Platform set out 12 areas for improvement. They are:

• Women and poverty

• Education and training of women

• Women and health

• Violence against women

• Women and armed conflict

• Women and the economy

• Women in power and decision -making

• Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women

• Human rights of women

• Women and the media

• Women and the environment

• The plight of young girls

Women's situation has improved in education, where they now outnumber men in upper secondary education and graduate in greater numbers than men in the EU, their employment rate has increased faster than men's and their higher qualifications led to more women than men entering high level and managerial posts during the 1990s in most EU Member States.

Improvements were achieved through three main factors: an ongoing legislation as established in the Treaty, a political will as stated in the Lisbon, Stockholm and Barcelona objectives and through a continuous and constructive dialogue with civil society, social partners and NGOs.

But much remains to be done. Worldwide, women still represent around 70% of those in poverty. In the EU there is still a 16% gap between men's employment rate and women’s.

And the average gender pay gap in the EU has dropped only by 1% since 2001 to 15%. Women have difficulty to re-enter into the labour market after maternity leave. The possibilities of parental leave for fathers need to become more flexible.

'Men and women need to share professional and private responsibilities. This will be essential if the EU wants to create a modern society that is also competitive globally,' Mr Špidla said.

The EU conference and ministerial meeting will contribute to the Beijing Platform for Action 10th anniversary international meeting at the United Nations, New York in March. The event will be attended by politicians and NGOs from all over the world to assess progress made and call for increased efforts needed towards the global goal of gender equality.

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